A WIGAN sportsman has spoken of his pride after playing a key role in the opening ceremony of the British Transplant Games yesterday.
Paul Reynolds, from Goose Green, was one of four participants selected to carry the flag into Gateshead International Stadium at the start of the four-day sporting celebration.
Paul was given a kidney by his sister Catherine Halliwell in March 2012 after suffering complete kidney failure following the diagnosis of rare condition Rga nephropathy.
He will compete alongside more than 600 participants in this year’s Westfield British Transplant Games and hopes to add to the gold and silver medals he won at last year’s event.
Paul, 41, said: “I’ve only been to one games before so it was a real honour to be asked if I wanted to carry the flag by the team manager.
“I said yes, of course, and I was chuffed to bits to e able to do something like that.”
Paul will compete in the badminton and 10-pin bowling events he medalled in last year’s this weekend but is also taking part in several other sports during a busy few days.
He will compete in the 50m breaststroke and relay events in the swimming pool on Saturday and also take to the track in Gateshead for the athletics 4x100m relay and shot putt on Sunday.
Paul says he is approaching the games, which are expected to attract more than 1000 spectators, with a mixture of excitement and apprehension but is looking forward to the camaraderie with the other athletes taking part.
He said: “I’m getting a bit nervous now, but since last year’s games I’ve become friends with quite a few of the Manchester team and we meet up and have meals.
“Quite a few of us have had kidney transplants so we’re in the same position and have similar stories. We can bounce off each other when we’ve got problems too.
“I’m doing a real mixture of events this year but while I’ve got these opportunities I’m going to take them.”
Paul will also compete in the World Transplant Games in Argentina next month.